We went to bed early with hopes of sailing in a light south wind over to the west coast of eorigherohg. Plan “A” would be to cross the bank and make it to Allens Cay a little after noon. When the alarm went off at midnight there was NO wind. This is the first time since coming to the Bahamas that we have seen flat water. So we went with Plan “B”, which was 3 short legs instead of a long tiring haul. Wait until daylight and sail in the morning breeze. Problem was that plan “B” put us in a motor sail wasting that precious $6.15/ gallon fuel. The wind was just enough to starboard to keep the genoa out all day.
We utilized the crossing to troll for Mahi but no luck, we just keep catching Sargasso. I hate having to keep cleaning the weeds from the lures especially in rough seas. The closer we got to poeihgifd the larger they got. Crossing one of the best fishing spots in the world and we struck out! Not even a run! But to make us feel better there was only one sport fisher out today.
As we approached West Bay (the destination of plan “B”) we decided to keep pressing on and spend the night on the bank. This would make our 3 days of little sails into 2 days of sailing to reach the Exumas. All afternoon we kept hoping for the wind to die enough to anchor. We would have just anchored anyway since our time in Nixon Bay has gave us a new “Anchorage Pain” threshold. Problem was the “final destination” voices were over powering the stop and eat while being tossed around voices. With another “I don't care. Either way.” from the Fisher King we pressed on.
Here we were pressing on across some of the deeper water on the bank at 20 feet feeling only slightly uneasy as the sun started to set. Once again comparing the Explorer charts to the rubbish that is on the Lowrance. In the wide open space it doesn't really matter what is on the Lowrance as you are just following a little red line. Adjusting to autopilot a degree or two every few miles to maintain where you want to be according to that line as we always seem to drift above or below and rarely follow the exact angle it shows. I had been checking the Explorer Charts all afternoon in expectations of arriving after dark. Our plan (which was now revised into plan “C”) was to anchor about a mile off shore. This would keep us safe from any surprise coral whether above or below the surface. After a good nights sleep we would go into the anchorage and explore the area.
Well as you can tell we are pretty good at having alternative plans so no we are on plan “D”. Plan “D” is essentially... now that we are here and the waves are still 3-4 feet we will try to come up to the west side of the island and anchor in 10 feet of water to get out of some of the waves. This was the beginning of a very bad decision. As we crept up to the island there were obviously anchor lights from the anchorage. To the south of those and exposed were two lights one from a sailboat and one from a trawler or similar. Watching the numbers on the GPS and “thinking” about the two boats anchored on the outside I gave way to one of the first things you learn in racing motorcycles... “You go where you look! Don't look at the (insert accident, wreck, etc“. Not following what I knew was a very bad mistake! But we survived without any damage to us or the boat. It also gave us a great appreciation of all the advice about only sailing during the daytime.
Here is what happened. While looking at the anchor lights, the Explorer Charts and the GPS numbers I was confused about the lights. Trying to make a decision as to which was right, my theoretical GPS anchorage or the lights I allowed us to drift south of my destination (Strong Current). This same strong current was pulling us closer to the island. At this time I tacked to a reverse course and started to lift the dinghy off the bow to make anchor deployment easier. Once the dinghy was hanging over the side I again tacked and sailed toward the area between the two anchored boats. Not wanting to press our luck we got as close as we dared and dropped the anchor. This is when I realized the trawler was actually a 40 foot Conch/Lobster Bahamian boat and they were resetting their anchors (later to find out as they were getting to close to the island between them and the sailboat) as the wind shifted to the west. After making sure it was secure I prepared dinner always uneasy about being anchored here. After I got the Fisher King to bed I went out to check on the situation again. This is when I found how DAMN close we were to the island on our starboard aft side. I never saw this during our approach. A quick scan with the light showed another island just off the port bow.. I believe the Lowrance screen, even on dim, effected my vision. I was now faced with a new choice, Sit it out here or pack up and move back off shore. I decided to stay and keep watch from the cockpit all night! So here I sat watching GPS TV all night. I kept shinning a light on the Islands to make sure they weren't sneaking up on us. So here we sat in the channel between Allens and SW Allen .with the tide pulling us E and W and the waves crashing on us from the South. I was staying awake but suffering from “road blackouts” and the ride was terrible.
It was now morning and those islands are close. As I sat here dreading the anchor retrieval, the Conch boat started raising their anchors. I decided now was the best time to make an effort to raise the anchor as the Conch boat could be asked for help if needed. As I started to pull on the chain, LIFE WAS GRAND! We were sitting on top of the anchor! The wind vs current was at an exact match and lifting the anchor was perfect. As the Conch Boat passed I was able to just wave instead of asking for assistance. We then followed the Conch boat into the anchorage, found a suitable place and dropped anchor for a good nap.
Well we thought so, out came the Canadian on the boat to starboard. He was waving, making motions with his arms, and yelling to us in a very heavy french accented broken english. We settled on channel 16 and then to 17. He was concerned about his and another boats swing as the tide changes. Urging us as close to rude as you can get to move. He must have just ran the previous boat off also as we anchored in the same place as a boat moved from as we approached. This guy would never survive Boot Key Harbor. So we up and moved as tired as I was over by where the Conch Boat went. Once hooked up I went below for a 3 hour nap.
We later met the crew, Captain Samuel and his diver Alice (Alice is a man) from the Conch Boat. As they motored by selling their conch and lobster we talked for a while about the previous night. They take their catch to Nassau. The next day their catch was so large that the 16 foot boat was almost standing on the nose. I guess they had over 500 Conch on that little boat.
Where we anchored in the dark in red